Philippine universities excel in Asia university rankings

By Joshua Corcuera

Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) has released the 2023 Asian University Rankings which included 16 higher educational institutions from the Philippines, up by one compared to the previous year.

In Southeast Asia, a total of 131 schools from seven ASEAN countries were included in the prominent list. From this number, 16 schools were from the Philippines. The University of the Philippines (UP) topped the list of Philippine schools and ranked 18th in ASEAN and 87th in the whole of Asia. Following UP is the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) which placed 26th in ASEAN and 134th in Asia. De La Salle University (DLSU) came third placing 38th in ASEAN and tied 171st in Asia. While the University of Santo Tomas (UST) is the fourth best school in the country, 41st in ASEAN, and tied 175th in Asia.

As you may have observed, the Big Four schools—UP, ADMU, DLSU, and UST—are, as usual, considered the best universities in the country. For purposes of brevity, I would merely enumerate the other Philippine schools that made it to the QS Asian University Rankings. The specific ranks of these schools can be found on the website of QS.

Aside from the Big Four, the other schools that made it to the list are as follows: Ateneo de Davao University, Mapua University, Silliman University, Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology, Saint Louis University, Xavier University, Adamson University, Cebu Technological University, Central Luzon State University, Central Mindanao University, Central Philippine University, and the Lyceum of the Philippines University.

From the 16 Philippine schools, only seven are found in Metro Manila—UP, ADMU, DLSU, UST, Mapua, Adamson, and Lyceum. The remaining nine schools are found outside of the National Capital Region. This may be a good development as it implies that high-quality education is not centralized in a small region but is spread in other regions as well. Likewise, there are universities that made it to the list that are from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The fact that several universities from the Philippines managed to enter the prominent list is a testament that some Philippine schools are at par with neighboring countries. After all, UP placing 18th in Southeast Asia is an impressive achievement. However, quality of education does not end with a mere list of ranked universities. It is imperative to remember that high-quality education has little value if only a select few—particularly the wealthy and privileged—can receive what is supposed to be a universal right. To reiterate, education is a right, not a privilege.

The challenge for the-powers-that-be and school administrators at present is to ensure that high-quality education is accessible to all, especially the least, the lost, and the last. In short, even students who have less in life—those who come from impoverished households and rural areas—should be able to attend formal schooling and receive education from these prestigious universities. Through scholarships, more students of humble backgrounds can be given a chance to prove themselves. Currently, I am a graduating student and a scholar from one of the schools included in the QS Asian University Rankings. For this, I am very grateful and I hope more schools will continue providing more scholarship opportunities to other students.

There are intelligent and gifted students even from the most remote and most impoverished areas of the Philippines. With this, it is important to provide them the opportunity to maximize their potential, to uplift themselves from poverty, and to enable them to serve the nation and the people.